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Progress of food in Ireland


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Egullet

After visiting Ireland and having friends who moved over to Ireland my conclusion is that Ireland is far behind of the rest of modern food movement,

Highly surpricing i found that most people still eat the meat well done or as my friend claim Very Welldone..Is their any sight of improvment in the near future and also can they be rescued from "Welldone meat with two veg and Sauce", I would like to see who the society beleives is helping the change and also why they are helping.

Ireland had two new Micheline star resturant this year Will it be followed next year and who is on the road for the next acclaimed resturant?

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Im sure people like corinna will have more infromative comments to make on this but what exactly are you basing this "theory" on?

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I was surprised at the state of food in Ireland when I was there two years ago. Restaurant foods was literally twice as expensive as it is in Canada and the US for "average" places. My family told me that in Belfast, going out to eat was more of a special occasion than just not wanting to cook.

The grocery stores had a pretty good selection, but many people, especially of the older generation had not really explored all of the different available cuisines.

My Aunt, who was in her late 50s had never even tried broccoli before. When I added some cranberries and almonds to a salad I made, she was incredibly confused. My cousins did introduce me to the wonder's of a 'curry chip' though.

Best late night after bar food ever!

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Plenty of poorly informed generalisations flying about. Food in Dublin has progressed significantly in the last few years if you care to research it. I know an English guy who eats nothing but curry -but I'm guessing he's not representative of the entire nation.

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I agree with that Dublin has becomme a good city for food, many good resturants at the moment however they still cater for people who like theire meat well done, I am not directing my statement on the resturant or the chefs, I am more talking about the people who goes to resturants(good and bad) and order the meat welldone, And I beleive many good restrants are helping educating the nation and my Question was who is helping the Dublin resturant in this progress

I was more wondering who will take on the challange and who is most likely to achieve a star outside Dublin? To have the same progress as Dublin have had over the last few years, which I fully agree is good,some even extremly good.

My statement is not wrong however I agree it needs more explanation.

Patrick Do you agree now when i have explaned what i based my statement on?

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Welcome to the eGullet Society Robot Coupe.

It sounds like you hit on some of the more mundane places on your trip to Ireland, which unfortunately, can be done without too much effort. Yes, there is a big appetite for well done meat and two veg around the country, but I don’t think this is our biggest problem.

In terms of how things are improving and who’s been driving it, historically, much of the credit goes to Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House who heralded the merits of locally produced food back in the 80s, and her daughter-in-law Darina Allen, who set up the Irish Farmers’ Markets and brought the Slow Food movement to Ireland. As a result, there has been huge growth in artisan produced cheeses, charcuterie etc over the last 10 years or more. In reality, the focus isn’t on ‘modern food’, we’re doing catch-up on traditional food.

In terms of who is on the horizon for a star next year, I don’t think this is the big picture when it comes to Irish food and rescuing us from the culinary woes you cite. But since you ask, here’s my take. At the moment, I don’t think there is anyone, but it depends how things develop over the year. There’s much talk about Neven Maguire of MacNean Restaurant in Cavan being ignored by Michelin, and many I think would like to see him with a star, but as far as I can see, he’s not interested. His restaurant has been refurbished and his food is excellent, certainly to standard (I think he’s got a wonderful palate and he uses top quality local ingredients), but he would need to invest in a sommelier and a deeper wine list if he wanted to throw his hat into the Michelin ring. That said, he now has a a website, so he may have ambitions. But the bottom line for him is keeping his very loyal customer base happy. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Paul Flynn at The Tannery in Waterford, is extremely talented (former head chef at Nico’s in London). He had a Bib Gourmand a while back and lost it not because of quality, but because of the price threshold. The prices, however are still extremely reasonable and the food is definitely Michelin standard, service is wonderful and it’s a lovely space. I can’t remember the scope of the wine list, this might be an issue and he doesn’t make his own bread (imports good par cooked ciabatta from France), so maybe not every box ticked. However, he is much more interested in a full restaurant and has achieved the delicate balance of keeping his customers happy without compromising on quality.

Troy Maguire in Locks is a possible if Michelin continues with their new haut bistro strategy, but I’m not sure he’s interested either. His menus, which don’t change that frequently, haven’t been quite as exciting as they were at the outset; scallops, after many promises of them have just appeared on the menu and the prices have crept up. But it’s a lovely place to go so don’t let the absence of a star put you off.

Roger Olson at Capella Castlemartyr in Cork is extremely competent. His menu features quite a few Pied a Terre inspired dishes, so it will be interesting to see how his style develops, but he also faces the delicate balance of keeping a broad cross section of customers happy. Of course, as it’s a hotel chain, he may not even be there for the long term.

George Keogh is getting good reviews for his restaurant The Waterfront at the Lord Bagenal in Carlow and I know that there are great ambitions there, but IMO, he hasn’t a chance. So much hasn’t been thought through here, from the distracting view of the ugly car park at the side to the tacky Versace chairs. It was half empty for Sunday lunch, I found the food over-wrought and I left wondering if it was he or me who had something seriously wrong with their palate. But the people I was with thought it was fine/quite good, so maybe I was having a bad taste buds day. But I do intend giving it another go just to see if I was wrong. BTW, there is a very popular meat and two veg restaurant on the older side of the hotel (completely bizarre how the old and the new structures are joined) and this is packed to the gills with the locals.

Which brings me back to your meat and two veg comment and your question about who is going to rescue us all from this culinary embarrassment. Well, I’m going to take the unlikely position of defending this food for a minute. It’s not for me, but plenty of people love a heaped plate of good straight forward food, and good for them. At least it’s honest food, generally of reasonable quality and cooked fresh, if a bit overdone. It’s the sort of food that most of us grew up with, and unfortunately, what a lot of kids don’t get any more. So your progress question is a broad one, and not, I think, one that’s going to be solved by steak ‘a point’ and a few Michelin stars, and to be honest, way too broad to be answered in any meaningful way.

There have always been a handful of expensive restaurants in Ireland, now there are a few more. Mid-priced restaurants have been slowly coming on stream over the past 25 years or so but the major growth was in the last 10 years which also saw the new trend of the neighbourhood restaurant. Does this amount to progress and a rise in standards? Yes and no. Certainly, there’s an increased focus on locally produced food and some great mid-priced restaurants (particularly in Dublin) are getting religion, so it’s not all doom and gloom, but it is all a very middle class phenomenon. The other end of the scale, the big offender IMO, is not the overcooked meat issue, it is over processed food that is doing visible damage and contributing to the rise in obesity.

So who is going to rescue us? More Michelin stars won’t solve anything although If you’re looking for someone who is really pushing the boundaries now, it would have to be Dylan McGrath of Mint restaurant who was awarded one of those new Michelin stars you mention. He is by far the most talented and exciting chef in the country, if a little controversial. But I don't think he is going to be a key influencer in terms of changing culinary habits across the country.

What we need is education. All kids should be taught how to cook in school because they’re not learning at home any more. It’s that simple (and I really don’t care if they opt for saignant or bien cuit). That, for me, would be huge progress, and no, it’s not being done. What would you do?

Here are a few more topics you might find interesting:

Thornton’s

Guilbauld’s

Chapter One

Restaurants in Ireland

Farmers’ Markets

Food in Ireland

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Excellent post Corinna...especially in light of previous query which is still on the burner and certainly of my annual foray with golf clubs next week. We're heading to the North Antrim coast staying at Bushmills due to its proximity to, er, Bushmills. Any suggestions for dinner within reasonable driving distance of Bushmills.

Thanks

Piers

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Corinna,

Many thanks for your most impressive writings,

It made me think a lot about education regarding our young people, and I do agree that its very little a Chef can do on a broad scale like we are talking here, however I do think a lot of chefs with a good resturant behind them probarly have more solid foundation then your avarage TV chef to educate people, I suppose the combination is what is needed.

Many thanks for the long list of resturants and chefs that you have highlighted in your text.

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Any suggestions for dinner within reasonable driving distance of Bushmills.

Thanks

Piers

Sorry, I haven't been up that direction for a while, so no suggestions other than the obvious: Bushmills Inn and the Distillers Arms on your doorstep. Would be interested to hear if you make any discoveries.

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